Metaplace secures funding for its virtual world

The build-your-own-virtual-world start-up raised $6.7 million in funding to expand its operation. But will it be able to succeed where Second Life and others couldn't?

Metaplace, a company that plans on letting users build a virtual world and use social networking conventions to allow groups to enjoy them, announced today that it raised $6.7 million of funding in a round that was led by Charles River Ventures and Crescendo Ventures, as well as independent investors, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.

Somewhat similar to Second Life, Metaplace creates an online virtual world for people across the globe to interact with. But unlike Second Life and There.com, Metaplace uses an open platform to allow users to create, build, and live in their own unique virtual world. The company claims that it wants its users to create a "network of worlds--from community to games to education to business" that will allow people to collaborate, socialize, and "conduct commerce" as they do in the real world.

Metaplace is currently in private beta and has only allowed a few thousand people to use the service. But in the coming weeks, it will open the beta to more users in the hope that it will grow into a service that brings together the virtues of both virtual worlds and social networks.

Whether or not Metaplace can thrive where Second Life and There.com couldn't remains to be seen. The company's idea to create a virtual world has been done before and so far, competitors simply haven't been able to capitalize on a relatively inactive user base. Regardless, Metaplace thinks it will be different.

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